I always wondered how long it would take before an HTPC-esque Linux-based alternative to Apple TV was released by some entrepreneurial type. While there will always be some who will want to build their own home-theatre PCs, what most really want is a solution that just works out of the box. Clearly sharing my thoughts is Peter Dawe, creator of Babel TV.
Basically, Babel TV it is a fairly standard PVR that also offers the ability to browse the web, create documents and view YouTube videos. It features dual digital tuners along side a 160GB hard drive for video recording and playback, Firefox for web browsing and OpenOffice for editing office documents. The large array of programs is possible as player actually runs on a customised Linux OS (based on Xubuntu).
In fact, the system runs on a standard PC base. It uses an unspecified processor, packs 512MB RAM and curiously for a TV device has a VGA output up to 1,600 x 1,200. More standard TV input comes in the form of S-Video and Composite ports - no high-definition content here. As well as the on-board storage, the system will also connect to online data provided by the manufacturers, to which all data is backed up. This storage space costs £1 per GB per month, so using a USB hard drive, as supported, might be a preferable option.
Internet connectivity is provided by Gigabit Ethernet although some USB ADSL modems are supported, so you could have the player connected directly to a phone line. For the non tech savvy users Babel TV is being targeted at, it should make a reasonable hybrid between PVR and HTPC. And with pricing at just under £300 it isn't too expensive either.